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Court to hear suit challenging Governor Alia’s Executive Order September 26

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From Msurshima Andrew, Makurdi

A Benue State High Court sitting in Makurdi, presided over by Justice Theresa Igoche has fixed September 26th, 2024, to hear the suit challenging the Executive Order in Benue State.

State Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue State, Mr. Bemgba Iortyom, and Human Rights activist, Mr. Adebayo Ogorry, dragged the Benue State Government, the Governor of Benue State and the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice and Public Order, Benue State, to court, arguing that the law severely infringes on fundamental rights of citizens and represents a “reign of dictatorship” that must be stopped.

It will be recalled that, Governor Hyacinth Alia had on February 27th, 2024, signed the Executive Order banning public gatherings and holding of all forms of events, including wakes, ceremonies and religious occasions beyond the hour of 10 pm, as well as prohibiting several other activities.

When the matter came up on Monday, Terna Agerzua who held the brief of Mohammed Ndarani, SAN, as counsel to the Benue State Governor and Benue State Government drew the attention of the court to his motion for extension of time to file his memorandum of appearance and defense to the suit for Governor of Benue State and Benue State Government.

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Jones Okwe who appeared for the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice and Public Order, Benue State, also moved his application for extension of time to regularize his processes.

The Presiding Judge, Justice Theresa Igoche granted both applications.

Joseph Ogizi, who held the brief of Abdul Mohammed, SAN, for plaintiffs informed the court that though the matter was fixed for hearing, the defendants in the suit served on him processes yesterday and shortly before sitting.

He asked the court for a short adjournment to enable him to file his response to the processes served on him.

After listening to the submission of Ogizi, Justice Theresa Igoche adjourned the matter to September 26th, 2024, for definite hearing.

In the suit, the plaintiffs are seeking, a declaration that the requirement of “First seeking and obtaining a permit from the Department of Public Order at the Ministry of Justice and Public Order, Benue State, for the holding of rallies, wakes and other forms of public gatherings is illegal and unconstitutional as it violates sections 40, 41, 45(1) of the 1999 Constitution and Article 11 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap. 10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.

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They are also seeking a declaration of the court that the provisions of the Public Order Act, Cap. 382, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, upon which the Executive Order made by Governor Hyacinth Alia and signed on 27th February, 2024 was purportedly premised, is in itself illegal and unconstitutional as it contravene sections 40, 41, 45(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended) and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap. 10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.

It is further the prayers of the Plaintiffs that the court declare the Defendants incompetent under the Public Order Act, Cap. 382, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, or under any law made by the National Assembly or the Benue State House of Assembly whatsoever to issue any permit for the holding of rallies, wakes or any such public gatherings after the hour of 10PM, amongst other reliefs.

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